The CW’s ‘4400’ is updated version of ‘The 4400’

Rick's Reviews

The new CW series “4400” stars (from left) Brittany Adebumola as Shanice Mitchell and TL Thompson as Dr. Andre. (Photo courtesy of The CW)

(KGET) — If the latest program joining The CW lineup, “4400,” looks a little familiar, that’s because it is a reboot of “The 4400” that debuted in 2007 and lasted four seasons. This updated version will launch at 9 p.m. Oct. 25.

Just like the original, the new series deals with what happens when 4400 people of various races and ages from around the world – who have been missing for varying amounts of time – suddenly reappear. These people must deal with life in a new time period while also trying to understand why suddenly they have special abilities.

They are strangers in a strange land – that would be Detroit instead of Seattle as in the original.

Rebooting a program that aired years ago comes with positives and negatives. The upside is that the small – buy loyal – following for the original will be drawn back to the series. The downside is that the first version ended with a cliffhanger that left fans frustrated.

No actor or executive producer can guarantee how long a program will run. All that can be done is produce the best product possible and wait to see if the viewing numbers are high enough to keep the series going.

Executive producer Ariana Jackson – a big fan of the original series – explains that the reboot is a reimagining of the whole premise of “The 4400” to draw in viewers.

“We have all new characters, sort of a whole new story around this premise that 4,400 people had gone missing throughout time,” Jackson says. “We are taking that premise and sort of exploring it in a different way.”

The series opens with people falling out of the night sky. Each person returns having not aged a day and with no memory of what happened to them. An empathetic social worker (Joseph David-Jones) and a hardened community corrections officer (Ireon Roach) are among the civil servants called upon to deal with the uncanny refugees.

It is a very eclectic group that includes: a lawyer and resilient young mother (Brittany Adebumola) from the start of the 21st whose unexpected reunion with her estranged husband (Cory Jeacoma) and teenage daughter is immediately rocky; a WWI Army surgeon fresh from the Harlem Renaissance (TL Thompson); an influential hidden figure from the Mississippi civil rights movement (Jaye Ladymore); a black sheep reverend (Derrick A. King) from 1990s Chicago; a seemingly shallow but misunderstood D-list reality TV star (Khailah Johnson) from 2015; and two wildly different unaccompanied teens.

The question is whether or not these characters will be interesting enough to make viewers start watching despite knowing that the story could end without a satisfying conclusion. Television history is filled with programs that ended without wrapping up big mysteries such as “Joe Doe” and “Lost in Space.”

Jackson admits that an early cancellation is just one of the realities of television. The approach that is being taken is to make every episode as satisfying as possible to keep viewers happy as long as the series gets to run.

One of the biggest ways this show has changed from the original is that it features a predominantly African-American cast. It is rare for any network series to be this diverse, especially one in the sci-fi genre.

King’s happy to be part of the cast because he can relate to the role so much because both he and his character are products of the ‘80s. He also sees a wide area to be able to work when it comes to character development.

But, the way the cast has been put together was a major factor in why King wanted to be part of the new CW series.

“Who doesn’t want to be part of a Black sci-fi show,” King says. “I’m like ‘Sign me up, please.’ That did it for me.”

This casting opens up numerous possibilities in regards to stories dealing with race issues as they can be examined in  a modern setting through those who dealt with many of the same problems in their past. The executive producers will weave together each of the stories – using everything from comedy to drama – through the large cast of characters.

Executive producer Sunil Nayar says, “We will see at the beginning that in each episode there is a chance for us to focus on a character we are getting to know in both the present and the past. We are going to flashback to the moments they lived in before they came to 2021.

“Along with that, it is definitely a show about the community that is created between the 4,400 who have shown up and the two people put in charge of making sure their assimilation into society is OK.”

Nayar adds that the strength of the show is the individual in each episode but not without the other characters in the series.

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